Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Spirit of the game

"Only one team played in the spirit of the game" Kumble's statement had layered connotations. By using an intensely Aussie line (Woodfull's line against Bodyline bowlers) Anil demonstrated that cricket in India is beyond just cricketers.

It is about script writers, media moguls, incredible money and fleeting fame.

As I watched the series I could see enormous well-oiled commercial machines in action. A TV channel trying to build the hype cycle to fuel its viewership, websites trying to outdo each other calling cricketers "wild dogs", news channels airing Rahul Dravid's dismissal as though it was someone pointing a pistol at the Prime Minister.

Any one with a semblance of cricketing knowledge would agree that the umpiring was rough. If you have watched Anil Kumble's 10 for against the Pakis you would remember the first wicket of Afridi (When Pakistan was 104 for no loss chasing 400 odd) was a shocker. If you have seen matches lost on bad umpiring decisions, you would shrug your shoulders and move on.

India should introspect into
* Why Dhoni was playing soccer having escaped 4 or 5 LBW shouts
* Why someone cricket "expert" Arun Lal famously sound bited "If I pick an Indian team, I will pick Yuvraj first and the rest next" takes more time walking on and off the crease than spending time in it?
* If Kumble can stay not out in the crease batting manly, why can't the superstar batsmen in the team survive even a reasonable duration

Having said all that the best way to redeem yourself is to prove to the world that given a decent pitch and even umpiring, we can draw with Australia in Perth.

Else, we can ask a clever spin doctor to come with an even punchier line in the next press conference!